He is naturally the topic of conversation and many are hailing him the new Eagles franchise QB, yet a few weeks ago those same fans were asking Chip to skip QB’s this draft and go for one next year when the depth at Quarterback is so much better and filled with NFL starters. A winning season and those same QB’s will be just out of reach for Philadelphia don’t forget.
So our 4th round, 98th overall pick Matt Barkley from USC managed four years as the starting QB at USC and four years as a starter before that in high school. That’s eight years of being the number one signal caller wherever he played.
He managed a respectable 34-13 record whilst at USC, this included a plethora of broken records ranging from passing yards, 12,327, to touchdowns, 110. Matt also won the 2012 Wuerffel Trophy, was a finalist for the Manning Award, Unitas Golden Arm Award, Senior CLASS Award and ARA Sportsmanship Award and was a National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete.
USC also had to face a lot of good teams, 8 of the 11 teams he played this past season had defenses in the nations top 50. When you look at 1st rounder E.J Manuel who went to the Bills he only ever played 5 and two of his games were against I-AA teams, 124-3 Manuel’s FSU won by, walkover much.
We have to start with his arm, more importantly his strength which has been a worry for some. His arm is by no means weak, but it’s not a cannon either. He can and will make deep ball plays but a lot of these are either under-thrown or his receiver has to pull back. In the NFL a Safety or DB that has a lost a step will be licking their lips at a ball five yards behind the guy that they are chasing. He still has a hint of accuracy in his long passes, the path the ball takes will match his WR’s route, it’s simply that he doesn’t quite have the strength to get that added bit of velocity to place his passes over his Receivers shoulders.
I’ve spoken about it before and again I worry about how he operates in the pocket and when being pushed out of it. His awareness is lacking somewhat and he sometimes struggles to realise or place oncoming pass rushers. This, in the NFL, usually leads to fumbles or big time sacks as he will at times panic. The panic issue doesn’t stop there as he likes to extend the play as much as possible, a great trait when done right but Matt will never let a play die. This can lead to him throwing a ball in hope as he’s wrapped up. Don’t get me wrong the ball will be perfectly pitched at his WR’s hands, but it’s the three DB’s floating around his read that I worry about. He needs to take a few more sacks and look to keep the ball in Philly’s hands rather than forcing needless turnovers.
I also got the chance to watch a few of his game tapes, naturally I picked out his Oregon game against his new HC Chip Kelly and he was ravaged all game and whilst he did labour he didn’t play badly against a very good defense.
That being said there are concerns, namely his decision making is a little inconsistent. He went from making a 3rd read TD pass in the red zone which was refreshing to watch, yet on another play he was found confused when Oregon’s NT dropped back into zone coverage, he didn’t know what to do and threw a pointless attempt at a pass. In this game and against Colorado he obviously loves to thread his passes through the eye of the needle. Numerous times he made plays where his Receivers were covered in front and behind and sometimes on one side with the sidelines on the other. This resulted is some amazing catches… at least a few times but then there was a pick or two and a good few incompletions which in the NFL would have been easy pick sixes.
The awareness issue was obvious especially against Oregon, even on his strong side when pass rushers were close to him he seemed oblivious and when he did notice he threw dangerous passes a number of them picked (in the Oregon game alone I think he racked up 3 INT’s, though one should have been PI). That being said when he didn’t throw the ball away and actually attempted to evade the on-rushing defenders nine times out of ten he ended up getting away from them so he just needs a bit more confidence and needs to hold onto the ball every time this happens.
Laterals and dump offs were run every other play it seemed, a somewhat easy pass some would think then again a lot of routes get jumped especially on laterals, you mess a lateral up and it’s going for six points. On one perhaps two passes he seemed to forget about a possible route jump, but this is one or two times to many he cannot make these simple mistakes.
On the flip side Matt invariably always threw the ball to give his receivers the best chance of YAC in both games. Even his deep balls weren’t all that bad, one managed to go over the shoulder of Lee, though a few others did involve his WR’s slowing down. Not so much against Colorado but against Oregon he was blitzed and rushed (Dion Jordan being one of the culprits) a hell of a lot and managed to float perfect balls away when he knew the blitz was coming. He has that beautiful ability to float balls over the top of defenders and at times his accuracy was precision at it’s finest but he’s still far from perfect.
EaglesBlog.net had some interesting Barkley numbers; since the start of 2011 season Matt Barkley threw 24TDs of 20 or more yards, with only 2INTs on throws of such distance. This interests me as Luck managed 13 TD"s and 5 INT"s and RGIII had 33 TD’s and again 5 INT’s so at least Matt still knows where he’s throwing when going deep. Also continuing on from what I mentioned about his ability to handle blitzes so well, for his career, Matt Barkley threw 44TDs and 6INTs when opponents blitzed, quick decisions key in Chip Kelly system. I do like that stat, in key situations in recent years Philly have thrown games away hopefully Matt may change that in the future.
What can I take away from reading about and watching Matt. Am I happy with him going in the 4th, yes I think he was a value pick then and i’m glad we didn’t go for him in the 3rd in all honesty. Is he ready to start, no I don’t think so and he won’t be for a couple of seasons. If he learns from a veteran like Vick (who in fairness does seem to have a good team attitude) over a couple of seasons I think he could be a franchise QB. My worry is that an injury will bring down Vick, Chip will be forced to play Matt and Matt simply won’t be ready.
I really hope we can use him like Rodgers who was a bench warmer for a good couple of seasons before taking Green Bay by storm. Give Matt at the very least two seasons on the bench then I think he’ll be ready to run that Philadelphia offense, he needs to improve his awareness and figure out when it’s better to take a sack rather than risk a possible INT. His read on D’s could also be slightly tuned to.
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